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Always standing tall!! - 90%

Xyrth, February 21st, 2011

Well, well, I bet most of this bands detractors must be now biting their bragging tongues. And if they’re not, they fucking should! For the canadian ensemble has proven to be one of the (if not THE) most powerful revivalist bands out there. I mean, why do bands like White Wizzard or Cauldron have received so much praise and attention when we have this guys doing it way better and showing album per album that they’re the real deal? However they’ve been mercilessly criticized for playing and glorifying the music they love and even tagged of being “core”. Bullshit I say! But now that they’ve got ridden of their most bitched-about flaw, the voice of founding member Jamie Hooper, there shouldn’t be anything keeping them from achieving the acclaim they deserve. And this, they’re fourth full-length, testifies that.

Here Waits Thy Doom could have been more aptly named: “Here Waits Thy Old School Power/Thrash (With a Great Deal of NWOBHM)”. Ok, that’s quite a long and ridiculous title. Anyway, it describes the sounds you’ll discover here. And when I say “old school” it actually means pretty old, right from the time when the power and thrash genres where in diapers. So if you’re expecting some unlikely mixture of Angra and Overkill you might end up disappointed. However, if your looking for an tasty brew of Maiden or Tygers of Pan Tang melodies, proto-thrash riffage ala Diamond Head, a fast but not hyper-fast rhythmic section, and extremely stand-out soaring vocals, this might just be for you. Original? Not quite. Done before? Well, yes. But not quite like this.

First of all, let my state that is my belief (backed up by the blessing of the Metal God, Mr. Rob Halford) that Cam Pipes is a helluva singer, and a criminally underrated one. His high-pitched vocals, with its slightly strange and particular reverb, make him tremendously recognizable. He easily stands-out amongst the crowds of classic metal, clean-singing frontmen out there. And like the Metal God himself, I just can’t think of anyone that sounds like Pipes, not even remotely close. That’s such an advantage this band possesses. Many consider his style over-the-top and cheesy. I agree with those accusations, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t kicks enormous ass. His voice alone is reason enough for listening to this band. Though not the only one.

Justin Hagberg and Shane Clark are the guitar team since 2004, and as usual they do a pretty decent job here. It’s not particularly original, but at this stage of the game we know that we’re not looking for originality here. Otherwise, we should be looking elsewhere. Anyway, for this record they provide us a vast array of good ol’ headbangeable riffs and melodic soloing. They’re melodies range from good and memorable (“Rock in Hell”, “Fierce Defender”) to a bit repetitive, like the melodic break on “Silent Killer” which drags on for a little to long perhaps and loses punch because of that. Both musicians also share bass duties here, and while it doesn’t stands out, it is done in an efficient way, and its pretty audible.

Also worth mentioning is that Hagberg also replaced the greatly loathed Hooper at the harsh vocals department. He uses a gruffer growl, a bit lower than his predecessor. Not a big deal anyway, since he only accentuates some of the lyrics, while Pipes is the focal point. But that’s not a bad thing also, since a small dosage of harsh vocals is, and has always been, part of this band signature features.

Ash Pearson did a great job too for Here Waits Thy Doom. No easy task, since he had to fill Alexei’s Rodriguez shoes. And while Ash is perhaps not as fast or flashy as Alexei, he is a more than capable drummer. He does play in a more traditional, classic heavy/power metal fashion, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t knows how to thrash the hell out of his kit. From time to time he’ll surprise us with quite fast double bass patterns, but even his slow, simple patterns are quite enjoyable.

Another change 3 Inches of Blood made for this album, well, is that they switched to Century Media, leaving Roadrunner, and this is most evident in the production. Here Waits Thy Doom has a true vintage feel, unlike any of their previous albums. The drums and bass sound really organic. Perhaps they wanted to move away from all the criticism they received for letting Joey Jordison produce “Fire Up the Blades”. And though personally I think Jordison work wasn’t that bad, maybe a bit too crispy and modern, this production here better suits the band, and pushes them closer to the aesthetics of their NWOBHM heroes of old.

So the songs, yeah! Well, we have a few three minute thrashing ragers, the best of which is “The Call of the Hammer”, one of the first songs released as a teaser for this album. Power/thrash straight to the jugular! Then, we also can enjoy some 4 to 5 minute metal rocking anthems; of which my favorites are the magnificent “Fierce Defender” with its charging battle riffs and the ballsy, soon-to-be metal classic “Rock in Hell”. Will you be there to rock in Hell? Well, goddamn it I will!

I also totally rock to the three “epics” of the album, “Preacher’s Daughter” with its hard rocking chorus, almost Deep Purple-esque feel, organ included (I love when this guys add an organ, like in the previous album’s “Trial of Champions”), “The Execution Tank”, the seven minute thrashing closer, and one of my 3”OB tracks, the superb “All of Them Witches”, a full-on NWOBHM worship with great vocals (including a bone-chilling Pipes Witch scream!) and melodic riffs that will be forever embedded in your brain. There’s also a brief acoustic interlude, nice but ultimately irrelevant as these interludes usually are.

Heed not the naysayers! This is pure and unadulterated metal for true metalheads that can see beyond the misleading accusations of this being “core”, “mainstream”, “a joke band” or whatever. Seek it, enjoy it, and embrace it! The High Inquisitor has decreed!